BY SCOTT TAYLOR
Last Wednesday the world awoke to the reality of Donald Trump as America’s 45th president. As it was well past midnight when Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton formally conceded the election, Trump’s victory occurred on Nov. 9 or 11-9. Tellingly, international stock exchanges plummeted immediately upon news of the outcome on a scale not seen since the 9-11 terror attacks of 2001.
Without a doubt, Trump is a bombastic buffoon who ran a divisive campaign hinged upon an anti-immigrant, sexist and homophobic platform. That said, the citizens of the United States have cast their votes and, for better or for worse, Trump will be president and commander-in-chief of the world’s last superpower.
How this will affect Canada and the Canadian military in particular is yet to be seen. But during his campaign, Trump made some sensational comments about those NATO members that, in his opinion, are not pulling their weight within the alliance. Given that Trump’s yardstick for member states’ commitment mirrors that of NATO’s proposal — that two per cent of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) be dedicated to the defence budget — Canada would find itself on the president-elect’s list of shirkers.
To put this into simple perspective, Canada currently spends about $20 billion on defence annually, and this equates to roughly one per cent of our GDP. In order for Canada to remain in a NATO alliance with guaranteed mutual defence assistance from Trump’s U.S.A., we would have to balloon our military budget to a whopping $40 billion.
Even though I firmly believe in a well-equipped and modern Canadian Armed Forces, as a pragmatic Canadian citizen I cannot envision from what existing services the federal government would be able to resource that additional $20 billion expense without having a serious impact on our nation.
So maybe it’s time to call Trump’s bluff. If he can question the necessity of Americans having to bolster NATO, we can question why we still need to belong to the alliance at all.
During the Cold War, Canada was a proud member of what was then a 16-nation alliance with the purpose of preventing communist expansion into Western Europe. On the opposing side of that Iron Curtain was the then-mighty Soviet Union, and those communist Eastern European countries that comprised what was known as the Warsaw Pact.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the great communist experiment in Europe died. As republic after republic seceded from the Moscow regime, all that was left was the rump state now known as the Russian Federation. Into this power vacuum poured the NATO carpetbaggers eager to recruit new members to the alliance. In this they were hugely successful.
NATO now totals 28 member states and a further four countries are actively seeking to join the mutual defence club. Of course, the question begs: Who exactly are all these NATO members banding together to protect themselves from? Then there is the question about NATO’s actual track record.
In 1999, eager to celebrate its 50th anniversary as an alliance, NATO jumped into the middle of a civil war in Kosovo. To justify a defensive alliance attacking a neutral European nation, in this case Serbia, NATO leaders professed the intervention to be a humanitarian mission to protect ethnic Albanians from genocide.
After a 78-day bombing campaign forced the Serbs from their autonomous province of Kosovo, it was discovered that no genocide had been perpetrated. In fact, it was the NATO bombing campaign that had triggered the mass exodus of Albanians in the first place.
Then there was NATO’s deployment into Afghanistan in 2002. Canada was happy to support the alliance in what ultimately proved to be an utter failure to forcibly democratize Afghanistan. No one ever explained how that mission fell within NATO’s mandate of saving Western Europe from communists.
Ditto for the 2011 Canada-led NATO mission to topple President Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. NATO may have successfully killed Gadhafi, but in his wake Libya has plunged into total anarchy.
To recap, Kosovo is currently the poorest country in Europe with the highest rate of criminal activity, Afghanistan remains engulfed in a civil war, and Libya is in the hands of Islamic extremists. So before Trump kicks us out of the club, let’s quit NATO before they strike again.